Gladiators hang on for victory

DULUTH — The Gwinnett Gladiators used their resurgent power play to winning effect for the second straight game Monday.

Scoring three out of five times on the man advantage led the Gladiators to a 4-3 victory over Cincinnati, one of the ECHL's top teams, before a sparse crowd at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

The Gladiators regained the league's top power-play ranking in a win over Florida on Saturday. Playing their fourth game in five days, including a 10-hour bus ride back from Florida, Gwinnett continued to make the most of its chances.

The Gladiators got out to a quick start, scoring on the power play just 2:56 into the game, and used two more power-play goals to rally from a 3-2 deficit.

"The power play has been great, the penalty kill has been pretty good and five-on-five we're playing better," Gwinnett head coach Jeff Pyle said. "We're just giving ourselves a chance to win. Which tonight was pretty much a must-win."

The victory, earned on a deflection out front by Tom Zanoski at 7:29 of the third, put the Gladiators just two points out of the American Conference's eighth and final playoff spot with 12 games left in the season.

"I'm sure there's guys that are pretty tired," said rookie forward Matt Francis, who had a goal and an assist. "But we knew it was a pretty big game. If you can't get up for this game, there's something wrong with you.

"Our backs are against the wall here and we don't really have much option but to (be resilient). I think right now we're trying to play desperate hockey and it worked well tonight."

Two teams at opposite ends of the conference standings engaged in a back-and-forth battle for 60 minutes. But Zanoski's 22nd goal, a tip on Drew Paris' booming shot from the blue line, held up.

"How about us getting a lead and holding it?" Pyle said. "We've been playing hard every game. I give our guys so much credit because they're so resilient. They keep coming back and they don't quit."